By Bayo Fasunwon
In a university close by, a student sat, one leg crossed over the other, his eyes set on the fifty-eight inches television in his self-contained room. Beside him, as he sat like a King, a bottle of illicit drugs, from which he drank, was on a stool beside him. There, he sat until the door to his apartment was forcefully broken and he was found dead, and he has remained in that position, so dead for two days. Our youths, despite the hues and cries of unemployment are found at night, in clubs and every drinking joint, frolicking with the twilight women, enjoying the dregs in their red disposable cups, laughing at the obscene, and walloping in their vomits.
Hotel rooms are permanently occupied while drugs, drinks, and lasciviousness rule. These crops of youths depend on expensive alcohol and street drugs to accomplish any task. The cybercriminals need it to keep awake all night to prey on their victims from across the seas. For many also, living under the creed of ‘who book help?’, and had therefore shunned classes to pursue the vanities of life, drugs are needed to keep awake all night, and memorise knowledge for regurgitation in the morning examinations. While men in the past depend on good appearance, English spoken in the Queen’s accent and ut de re impeccable vocabularies spiced with Latin to woo women, this generation of youths depend on weed to approach a woman.
While our fathers depended on sheer strength to achieve 200 to 400 heaps in a day, our youths depend on drugs to arrange chairs in a hall. The drugs socialisation is seen in the streets, reinforced by loud inciting music, with lewd lyrics and music videos wherein booze and drugs are advertised and used freely.
Despite the restrictions and clampdown, the illicit drugs being peddled and consumed by the nation’s ‘leaders of tomorrow’ include cannabis, cocaine, amphetamine, heroin, diazepam, codeine, cough, Colorado, syrup, and tramadol amongst others. Drug peddlers who often seek for markets are quick to offer these drugs free to unsuspecting youths, and then take a pound of flesh when the rookies have become slaves to the drugs. As at 2017, when the situation was not as bad as it now is, UNODC submitted that with regards to illicit drug consumption, the South-West zone had a prevalence of 22.4%, the South-South (16.6%), Southeast (13.8%), Northeast (13.6%), North-West (12%), and North-Central (10%). Specifically Oyo and Lagos states took the lead, but unfortunately, Ondo state is also pushing forward, dangerously in drug abuse and usage. In the years past, illicit drugs were scarce and hard to come by. Mostly, they are heard of but rarely seen. However, just like x-rated movies, illicit drugs are sold and taken in the full glare of the public. Secondary school students are proud to show their stained tongues, while the Okada tax collectors are not careful in rolling their weed, light, inhale, and ooze out odours that make the non-smokers flee. On the social media platforms, it has become a thing of pride to show someone misbehaving under the influence of ‘Colorado’ while his friends would try to beat such back into reality.
The controlling and devastating effects of the consumption of illicit drugs are much around us, Young girls are emboldened to trade in illicit drugs on the streets while young men are emboldened to carry out dastard acts of murder, rape and other vices under the influence of drugs. Many youths now shun classes depending on drugs to embark on marathon late night study which is injurious to their mental wellbeing. It is quite commendable that the NDLEA are both in town and in roads to arrest some of these drug users, however, much needs to be done to take out the drugs barons from the market. The pimps used in selling these drugs are usually young, hungry, and abandoned fellows who would do anything to survive. Arresting such though good, may however contribute less in cleaning the streets of the menace, until the Barons and major distributors run out of town.
In a few years to come, instead of communities bragging about the presence of well-read persons, in their villages, communities may only have to boast about the presence of at least one lunatic from their communities. This is due to the unchecked usage of these illicit drugs, lack of rehab and counseling centres that are truly equipped for such cases. Even now, many Nigerians are time bombs, walking along the streets. Already, there are many people in suits, mentally unbalanced, found in all occupations. This incubating insanity would only need a trigger that would lead to violent reactions and full-blown lunacy soon. It is time to act fast and put all hands on deck to ensure that drug abuse is halted in its tracks immediately.
Now, irrespective of the given reasons for the use of these illicit and injurious drugs, one fact still remains and summarizes it all. Drug users are just trying to escape reality. The reality of pain, frustration, joblessness, sickness and others. However, it is not a good reason to engage in drug abuse. Whenever the effects of these drugs wear off, the present state is often worse than the beginning. That, which many seek to avoid, are actual challenges that one needs to overcome to move to the next stage of higher calling, but many fell by the wayside. In order to curb this menace, there is the urgent need for parents to bond with their children. Nowadays, many career and domestic chores have ensured that parents have less talking time and synergy with their children. Unfortunately, the little time with the children are also taken by mobile phones making them vulnerable to be lured into the dark world of despair. Apart from this, communication between higher institutions and parents seems to have collapsed. In the days of yore, parents are notified of their wards’ performance in school even before such get home. Now, there is a disconnection as students seem to roam wild, while the various schools look the other way. Schools at all levels not only owe the parents a duty of monitoring wards under their care, but also owe the society at large that duty of ensuring that the restless youths are guided in the path of wellness.
To this end, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) would do well in planning seminars, shooting documentaries as well as mounting billboards and advertisements on all social platforms, television and radio stations on the evils of drug abuse, all in the aim of preventing the enslavement of many to these killing consumables. The NDLEA could go beyond arrest to partner with health, education and other relevant institutions to enact and implement programmes that would discourage drug abuse in the country. While it is commendable that the Nigeria Customs have reportedly confiscated drugs on many occasions, it is advisable that NAFDAC should organize occasional visits to various drug stores and dispensing shops to fish out death vendors. While this may also seem dictatorial, but occasional visits to parties, clubs, and leisure joints should be carried out to arrest illicit drug peddlers. The rescue of the youths from drug abuse is a war that must be won.